Georgina Wild of HIM provides some insight into shoppers' attitudes to c-store pricing

The world is now very price- and value-focused and that has implications for c-store operators.

As part of the Convenience Tracking Programme (CTP), HIM interviewed about 1,700 convenience store shoppers face-to-face at stores across 18 chains in October, to find out their perceptions of price, value and promotions.

The results show that 21% of shoppers say they are spending more in convenience stores now compared with six months ago (only 9% say they are spending less).

Shoppers are still prepared to pay a price premium in c-stores over supermarket prices 14% more on average although this is a slightly lower differential than in previous years. In fact, shoppers actually think they pay a little more than their acceptable 14% price premium.

However, many shoppers say they don't know the price of items in convenience stores, neither do they check prices.

So if retailers want to improve the sector's price image further, what do they do? There are three key areas to consider. First, promotions. Most shoppers think these improve the price image of a c-store, but a third say the promotions offered aren't relevant to them.

Second, rounded price points. As many as 34% of shoppers are encouraged to buy them (compared with 8% that aren't). Customers like them because they help keep track of what they're spending and get rid of loose change.

And third, pricemarked packs. Customers say they give a reassurance that they're not being overcharged, and our research shows that 38% of shoppers are encouraged to buy them, compared with just 6% who aren't.

It is worth remembering that there are many shoppers who think c-stores aren't more expensive than supermarkets.

So why don't they buy more of their groceries in their local c-store? When asked, 65% of shoppers say there is not enough choice, 51% say it is too expensive, 46% say it doesn't offer the right range, 25% say there aren't as many promotions, and 17% say they don't offer fresh.

So there are other reasons besides price to consider. In fact, as many as 80% of c-store shoppers believe price isn't the most important thing to them and most c-store shoppers think their c-store is managing to stay competitive.